4 September 2023

"We're all a part of the plastic pollution problem": Cooktown locals come together for 2023 beach clean up

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Several volunteers of the North Shore beach clean up are lined up across the beach with bags in hand, picking up rubbish.

The Cooktown community comes together every year to reduce plastic pollution at North Shore beach.

THE Cooktown community will come together again this Saturday to reduce rubbish and keep North Shore beach clean.

South Cape York Catchments and Tangaroa Blue have worked together annually to organise a volunteer-run clean up at the beach and track the origins of the rubbish that is collected.

The North Shore beach is a hot spot for rubbish, with an average of 1.5 tonnes to 3 tonnes of debris collected every year.

“It’s a huge amount of rubbish,” said South Cape York Catchments manager Jason Carroll.

The collected debris is then sorted and analysed to track it back to its source. Mr Carroll said this could be particular items such as plastic water bottles, or come from industry practices such as packaging or fishing gear dumping.

“It’s quite common that certain kinds of rubbish will come out of this clean up and (Tangaroa Blue) will talk to an industry and something is actually done about it,” he said.

“There has been some amazing stories of rubbish that no longer appears on our beaches anymore because of us this process.”

He said that data collection was an integral part of the clean up in reducing waste long-term.

“It’s very important to do that, otherwise we’ll just be picking up the rubbish on the beach forever.”

Due to tides and ocean system flows, around half of the rubbish found on North Shore beach comes from countries to Australia’s north.

“The further north you go, the more international and the further south you go, the more Australian rubbish there is,” he said.

The clean up is also important in making a “community statement” against waste and inspiring changes at the local level.

“We’re just one tiny town and there’s a massive plastic pollution problem,” Mr Carroll said.

“We’re doing our bit for our local area and making a statement.

“It’s really nice coming together. It’ll be social and fun.”

SCYC is calling for any volunteers who are passionate about reducing waste in the oceans.

The morning starts at 7am and ends with a barbecue back in Cooktown.

To get involved, register at www.scyc.com.au/volunteer

Bags of rubbish are piled in the tip of a small white boat.

Every year, 1.5 to 3 tonnes of rubbish is collected, analysed and put into the Australian Marine Debris Database.

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